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Prostate cancer screening may be possible in next five years, expert says

It may be possible to screen for prostate cancer in the next five years, one of the UK’s leading cancer experts has said.

There currently isn’t a national screening programme for the disease, but Ros Eeles from the Institute of Cancer Research hopes advances in technology will change that.

“With the advances in genetics and also imaging, particularly MRI, realistically we do need some more data, but we’re probably looking at getting close to a tailored screening programme in the next three to five years,” the professor of oncogenetics said.

“We might need to use all of them together… so we can find those who have significant disease.”

Around 50,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year and one in eight men are told they have it in their lifetime.

A blood test, known as the Prostate-Specific Antigen, detects proteins in the prostate gland, which can be used to evaluate a patient’s risk of getting the disease but it does not accurately distinguish dangerous cancers from harmless ones.

This, researchers say, can lead to both unnecessary operations and missed cancers that are harmful.

Earlier this year, the NHS approved the use of enzalutamide, a prostate cancer drug, which is an option for treating some types of the disease.

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The drug has been used during the pandemic as a so-called “COVID-friendly” cancer drug, which patients can take at home instead of needing intravenous medication in a health setting.

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